Caroline Spelman raises plight of Christian refugees and religious minorities in Syrian

Caroline SpelmanOn 11th October MPs debated a motion from Andrew Mitchell MP (Sutton Coldfield, Con), “That this House has considered the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo and more widely across Syria.” The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, made a short intervention in the debate during the speech of Patrick Grady MP, to draw attention to the plight of Christians and religious minorities.

Dame Caroline Spelman (Meriden, Con): While the UK Government are right to focus their efforts on providing aid in the region, the refugees we have agreed to take, particularly under the community sponsorship scheme, include only 2% of Christian refugees from Syria, despite the fact that religious minorities constitute up to 12% of the Syrian population. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that we need to make more effort to reach out to frightened religious minorities in Syria?

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North, SNP): Yes, absolutely, I agree that persecuted minorities need to be given special attention. The House as a whole has given the Government a mandate to act on the genocide of the Yazidi community. The support provided for refugees needs to go beyond simply meeting physical requirements. I have constituents who are traumatised by their experiences in Syria and elsewhere, and mental health support will be increasingly important.